Even though I had rested for most of the day I was still somewhat tired going into the night race. The hubs assured me my excitement would get me through it. So, after stocking my armpocket with gummy bears we headed to Epcot.
All racers not being transported to and from the hotels by Disney had to park at Epcot in an attempt for less congestion/traffic at ESPN Wide World of Sports (which does not have the vast amount of parking Epcot does). It also would make it easier for racers and their loved ones to leave following the after party. The hubs and I took a photo for luck and he walked me to the busses.
I was sad the hubs was unable to run with me, especially since I had been counting on seeing his face at mile 5 where I would have been picking him up. I absently checked again for my email granting me permission to run his leg. I had gotten that permission when I thought I would be running with him. Later, it seemed this idea became problematic so I was glad I thought to save, print, and forward my original email. I knew I would not be eligible for any of the “full” benefits including awards (um yeah right!), an official finishing time (I would have my tag clipped at mile 5), online tracking, or the full medal. As long as I got my relay medal (which I was assured I would) I really did not care about anything else other than finishing. I was completely fine with all of the stipulations and actually started feeling excited and hopeful as we pulled into the Wide World of Sports.
With just under 11,000 runners the lawn at ESPN was crazy! There were runners everywhere, a really fun DJ, and they even brought out Chef Mickey and Minne. Thankfully, I was near the front when this happened so I was able to snag a photo with Minnie before the line got too long.
I realized I was getting a little worn out and punch drunk from the dancing and excitement so I found a patch of grass to sit down on, listen to the music, and stretch. It barely seemed like any time had passed at all before I was headed to the port-o-potty (the ickest part of racing in my opinion) and to my starting corral.
Once I was in my corral I decided to sit down again. Everyone was jittery and it was making me nervous. Plus you can burn a lot of nervous energy in 45 minutes. I happily ate my gummy bears and tried to get ready to race. I saw a lot of people around me that were all shapes and sizes, some doing relay and some doing the ½. This made me happy. As someone who definitely does not have a “runners body” (not even close) it felt nice to see other people giving the Disney races a try!
At 10 minutes until go time I stood up, stretched a little more, and started to get in my mental “sweet spot” for running. I was already tired and I knew this was going to be rough. Plus, if I am being honest I must admit I was scared. I did not want to fail. I said a little prayer (which I always tend to do right before a race) and then I felt ready to give it my best shot. A few moments later they released the wheelchair athletes and then came our countdown and (my fave) the fireworks.
The first mile was chaotic and confusing as it always is. Without a wave start (meaning they started all corrals at once) there were pretty much people everywhere. People were walking, running, jogging, doing intervals, etc. No one was really going at the same pace other than the super fast peeps who were long gone. The first mile always makes me jittery but in between miles 2-3 things seemed to even out. Somewhere in the first couple of miles we ran out of Wide World of Sports and I thought it was really fun to run so close to the ginormous red ESPN sign. That might have been my favorite part.
I did not take any photos on the course. It was dark and I was too nervous to concentrate on photos. I made a mistake on this course in that I was very overzealous in the beginning and I felt myself starting to waiver as early as mile 4!! I ate some gummy bears, found a much slower pace, and went on my way. Luckily, the next few miles would be a great pick-me-up. I had never been to Animal Kingdom so I was looking all around and trying to soak everything in as I went through. Sadly, my dream of running with lions was dashed as I did not see a single animal on my run through the park. 😉
After Animal Kingdom is where I would have picked up the hubs. My timer was clipped and I was sent on my way. I did not even have to bust out my email. The next part of the run was in Hollywood Studios, which was also fun. Running in the parks is by far the coolest thing about a Disney race.
At this point I started feeling like I was going to throw up. I had not brought my own water/Gatorade, which was a huge mistake. I needed more sips than there were stops on the course. I found myself feeling really sick in between water stops.
I was really tired, walking a lot, and shaking by this point. I had not eaten enough pre-race and will bring my peanut butter with me next time. But, I was almost finished which was a good thing since the guys on the bikes (you know the ones) were buzzing all around. I became paranoid about being swept right at the end so I tried to get my speed up. This was a terrible idea and I actually 1. yelled in pain 2. started to tear up 3. resolved myself that this might not happen for me.
I kept going at my walk/jog pace for what seemed like an eternity and a girl on the sideline told me “you have just a little over a quarter of a mile to go”. I teared up again. I was so excited to be finishing and just to be done. I wish I could say I finished super strong but in reality I walk/jogged across the finish line (for relay-ers) and got my medal. I know I was not the last person to finish. There were at least 2 girls behind me, possibly more but I know I was one of the “back of the pack” finishers. That was ok with me. I remembered the saying “ Dead Last trumps Did not Finish which greatly trumps Did not have the courage to start”. Even though it wasn’t the strongest finish I still felt like I had won the Olympics.
I started texting friends right away and then I realized I felt like I was going to be sick. I took my refreshment bag and sipped on powerade while I inhaled a banana chocolate chip muffin. Immediately after this I had some water and a piece of hard candy. I felt myself returning to normal.
Right away I set off to find the hubs who was waiting for me in front of “the ball” at Epcot. I slowly made my way over to him and realized he looked almost as tired as I felt.
Epcot was packed and we had to wait in line forever for our tastes and sips. The idea was a lot of fun and I ended the night with a fantastic (and much deserved) piece of baklava. YUM! The hubs and I headed back to the hotel for much overdue sleep.
I cried in the car on the way back to the hotel. I told my husband I did not think I had what it took to go through that again. After talking with Andrea, Casie, and some work pals I felt better knowing my reaction was completely normal and would fade away.
I am now more excited than ever to start training for the Princess ½ marathon. I don’t feel like I have anything to prove this go around so I will be running for fun. The experience, and not the finishing, will be my goal. Plus, the princess ½ trip will be our long Disney vacation for the year. I don’t want to spend it overly sore, sad, or disappointed. I will run in my tiara until I just don’t want to run anymore or I hit that 13.1 whichever comes first. 😉
Overall, I learned a lot during this race and feel I will be better prepared when the Princess ½ rolls around in February. Now if we can just talk the hubs into running it again…..